How One Woman Ate Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey for Three Weeks

How One Girl Ate Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey for Three Weeks,

This Thanksgiving, the overwhelming majority of meals writers have been enthusiastic about one factor: skipping the turkey. A small present of this shitty 12 months was the possibility to commit time and power to cooking a duck or leg of lamb or beef Wellington or bo ssam — or something, actually, however a fussy, massive, bland fowl. Or, burned out on limitless pandemic dwelling cooking, one may say fuck it and order a pizza.

In the meantime, I ordered a 17-pound heritage turkey for 2 folks: my girlfriend and me. Developing with a unique artistic cooking challenge sounded tiring, and truthfully, I like turkey. I take pleasure in how gentle and bland and barely sweetish it’s, and that blandness makes turkey an ideal leftover meals. In truth, each part of my best Thanksgiving dinner tastes higher the following day, or truthfully, for the following week. No different vacation menu is as prescribed or ossified as conventional American Thanksgiving, and no vacation is as devoted to overabundant casseroles. The one technique to benefit from the meal’s strictures and abundance, for my part, is to deal with it like an enormous, uncommon beast, felled however every year to be feasted upon with completely nothing left to waste.

However the day after I ordered this huge, costly turkey, I began considering it by means of. The rule of thumb was, what? A pound per individual? So we have been getting a turkey for… 17 folks? Did I really like turkey that a lot?

My private pandemic cooking fatigue manifests as choice fatigue, and truthfully, it appeared like a reduction to spend one intense day cooking after which ease into a protracted stretch after I would know what I used to be making: one thing with turkey. In late November and early December, turkey tastes finest and most right, when the failing daylight and rising chill makes for probably the most satisfying consuming of pot pies, noodle soups, and different best leftover turkey conveyances. Nothing appeared sadder than dropping kilos and kilos of turkey behind the freezer, so I made a decision we might eat turkey day by day till it ran out. It ended up being a three-week affair.

Thursday, November 26

Big turkeys contain so many logistics. I knew this, and knew I’d probably remorse attempting something far more formidable than making mentioned big turkey, however after listening to Samin Nosrat talk about her buttermilk turkey recipe on her podcast, House Cooking, I needed to attempt it. Even after I noticed the recipe had solely been examined for a fowl of as much as 14 kilos, I used to be not deterred — I left hipster LA grocer Cookbook with an alarming quantity of extraordinarily heritage buttermilk to verify I had sufficient. Our fowl arrived frozen on the Sunday earlier than Thanksgiving, which I hadn’t counted on. On Tuesday, whereas it was nonetheless partially frozen, I gruesomely spatchcocked it with a pair of kitchen shears whose handles have been falling aside. Subsequent, the turkey carcass poked tiny holes within the plastic brining bag, spilling gross turkey-buttermilk juice all around the flooring. I switched to brining it in a roasting pan, however our tilty damaged fridge shelf made extra gross juice spill, so then we cleaned half the fridge. These experiences spurred a substantial amount of Turkey Remorse.

However then we cooked the precise turkey, and the pores and skin got here out so completely completely golden and crisp and filled with taste that we couldn’t cease sneaking bites of it whereas carving. For the primary turkey meal, we ate it scorching with just a few sides (stuffing, candied candy potatoes, inexperienced beans, my grandmother’s coleslaw my mother taught me easy methods to make over Zoom) and a ridiculously thick gravy I cooked for too lengthy as a result of I detest skinny gravy. We ate possibly two to a few slices of turkey breast every, which, whereas not as flavorful because the pores and skin, was pleasantly seasoned and solely a tiny bit dry.

After dinner, I messily broke down the turkey (no company = no disturbing fancy carving), storing the legs and wings complete and shredding the remaining chicken and darkish meat into separate piles. Among the breast I sliced skinny for sandwiches, too. All of this I packed into a huge tupperware container, after which stacked the leftover pores and skin on high. The carcass I put into an equally big plastic bag, and left it a bit meatier than I’d have in any other case, as a result of we had turkey to burn and a meaty carcass makes wonderful inventory.

Friday, November 27

By way of how a lot time goes into making its parts, no sandwich requires extra precise work than a Thanksgiving sandwich, however as a result of it’s a automobile for leftovers slightly than the principle occasion, making one at all times appears like a sneaky triumph. However each one I’ve made disappoints me barely — I nonetheless haven’t cracked my private Thanksgiving sandwich code. The primary Thanksgiving sandwich of 2020 I constructed on milk bread, with sliced turkey, stuffing, candy potatoes, coleslaw, mayonnaise, chilly gravy, and cranberry sauce. All I actually tasted was candy potatoes, which undermined the purpose of the Thanksgiving sandwich: it’s meant to be a balanced chunk of Thanksgiving-ness — some savoriness, some herbiness, some sweetness — whereas not tasting precisely like Thanksgiving dinner. I stay satisfied the following one I make might be excellent.

Dinner was a slop pile of leftovers; I consider turkey was in there someplace. This tasted precisely like Thanksgiving dinner, as a result of it was, however no less than it didn’t solely style of candy potatoes.

Saturday, November 28

After failing to chill out on Friday, Saturday we declared a Day of Nothing and took to the sofa, leaving it solely to eat Thanksgiving sandwiches or Thanksgiving slop piles or possibly simply pie, whereas watching a Mackenzie Davis double characteristic of Happiest Season and Terminator: Darkish Destiny. I didn’t completely handle to do nothing, although, as a result of I threw the turkey carcass within the inventory pot to simmer in a single day on the range, after conferring about how this in all probability wouldn’t kill us in a fireplace. For the primary time in six days, there was no big turkey carcass taking over house within the fridge, and I felt a mixture of triumph and gentle fear, as if the house opening up may imply I’d need to fill it with one other massive fowl and begin over again.

Sunday, November 29

I awoke at 4 a.m. to the whole home smelling of turkey inventory, and I awoke ravenous. For breakfast, although I’d eaten pie for dinner the night time earlier than as a result of I used to be uninterested in Thanksgiving sandwiches and/or slop, I made the questionable transfer of utilizing Thanksgiving leftovers, making a hash with candy potatoes and turkey pores and skin, and spooning a number of the extraordinarily thick gravy subsequent to the egg. Lunch was a lazier pile of leftovers, and dinner was an open-face, gravy-heavy scorching turkey sandwich, with some mashed potatoes I made that day, as a result of I used to be unhappy we hadn’t made mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.

I may eat a scorching turkey sandwich over mashed potatoes and fluffy white bread for a number of meals in a row and nonetheless need extra. Consuming that sandwich for dinner reinvigorated my religion within the turkey plan, and instilled a way of Turkey Triumph. I’m fairly positive that is my precise best Thanksgiving sandwich: It focuses on the 2 belongings you labored hardest for — turkey and gravy — and does away with all of the adorning sides and their tendency to cloy. There’s a purity to the blandness of the recent gravy sandwich that someway permits them to transcend, partly as a result of they’re just a little quaint and due to this fact novel, a kind of meals troublesome to seek out created from scratch in eating places. In case your childhood palate was closely formed by precision-engineered processed meals, less complicated, blander midcentury classics are nearly a reduction.

By the top of the weekend, the turkey pile had dwindled surprisingly far under the lip of the Tupperware, however the entire container nonetheless had critical heft.

Monday, November 30

Lunch was a pared-down Thanksgiving sandwich — turkey, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, mayo — scarfed in a car parking zone overlooking the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, earlier than I went on a hike. It was scrumptious in that messy means solely consuming in or close to your automotive is; a number of the coleslaw fell out onto the asphalt. Decreasing the Thanksgiving sandwich parts all the way down to turkey and two acidic parts made for a extra profitable sandwich, however I wasn’t positive it had sufficient Thanksgiving happening to really rely.

For dinner, I made the New York Occasions recipe for a Thanksgiving leftover enchilada pie, which the headnote says was developed for a youngsters’s part of the newspaper, which made me really feel just a little self aware however solely just a little. Making the recipe drew down a few of my March meals hoarding — the tortillas have been the final of an enormous freezer stash, from a packet given to me by an area chef when he was shutting down his restaurant these first few unsure weeks, and the can of pink enchilada sauce I’d purchased from my nook retailer out of some misplaced worry {that a} provide chain breakdown would end in a protracted enchilada scarcity.

Into the enchilada pie, I piled cooked cranberry beans, candy potatoes, and many shredded turkey. It tasted largely like candy potatoes, once more. However I had a breakthrough: I noticed the factor I used to be largely sick of was candy potatoes, despite the fact that that appeared insane as a result of candy potatoes are the proper meals.

Tuesday, December 1

I used to be prepared to maneuver on, however I wished to maintain drawing down the turkey. For dinner, the entire beans that didn’t make it into the enchilada went right into a recipe from the newest version of the Rancho Gordo bean membership publication, a bean soup that entails pureeing beans with aromatics, cooking arborio rice within the ensuing thick thick inventory, after which piling some sauteed greens on high. Possibly that is the place I confess that I didn’t put a lot thought into how we might get by means of all this turkey, as a result of I thought-about it as a giant rooster, and about 30 % of what I find out about cooking entails utilizing up leftover rooster and its inventory. On this case, I dumped some turkey inventory into the soup, and shredded up turkey meat to go in on the finish, which I’m undecided improved the soup, however did deplete some turkey.

The issue with the massive rooster methodology is that turkey does have a extra distinctive style than rooster — it’s a bit richer and sweeter — and even after I make a rooster, I don’t eat the rooster day by day for weeks. I assume what I’m saying is I’d have been happier with a non-turkey bean soup. The remainder of the turkey and the inventory (there was lots!) went into the freezer. I portioned the turkey into quarter-pound baggage of shredded up meat, and the inventory into two cup baggies. Is that this just a little late to be freezing each? I don’t know. I lived to put in writing this piece!

Wednesday, December 2

Possibly this is the place I confess that we’ve spent a substantial amount of this pandemic dwelling off of actually the identical meals for days, and infrequently these meals are “a pile of beans over toast,” not a particular recipe. Having two real-deal leftover meals — the turkey enchilada pie and the bean soup — within the fridge Wednesday felt like a large luxurious. We had enchilada pie for lunch and the soup for dinner.

Thursday, December 3

For lunch, my girlfriend and I cut up the final of the bean soup and pie leftovers. For dinner, I made a variation of a lazy udon soup I’ve been making on and off all through the pandemic. This one was particularly lazy: just a few plumped-up dried shiitakes and a daikon radish from my farm field, simmered in turkey inventory till tender, and frozen udon noodles dumped in on the finish. I added just a little little bit of miso, too. It was high-quality? However a satisfying type of high-quality, the place you eat figuring out what number of completely different stockpiled elements, acquired months aside, you became dinner.

Friday, December 4

After a few week out from Thanksgiving, the turkey consumption dropped all the way down to as soon as a day, whereas the primary week we had one thing turkey-derived for lunch and dinner. I truthfully can’t consider it took that lengthy. Lunch was leftover completely high-quality turkey udon soup. For dinner we ordered a bunch of Thai meals from among the finest Thai eating places in Los Angeles, Luv2Eat. The massaman curry got here with a complete rooster drumstick, and the dish’s layers of warmth and spice cleared my palate after (means) too many days of gentle Thanksgiving sweetness.

Saturday, December 5

One factor I’ve gotten into making every so often currently is gravy, so for lunch I made up a brand new batch of gravy (when you’ve got inventory, it’s not that annoying or onerous), and heated up a number of the frozen turkey in it. Then, I dumped it over some items of toast: scorching turkey sandwich! In the event you like mush sufficient to take pleasure in completely different textures of mush, there isn’t any higher pleasure than gravy and shreds of meat melting right into a thick slice of white bread, softening it some locations whereas leaving the sides agency sufficient to sop up the remainder of the gravy after the center of the sandwich is gone. It’s particularly good if the bread is just a little candy and the gravy just a little too salty, so your senses preserve getting mildly overwhelmed in several methods, like going out and in of the cooler saunas in a Korean spa.

Sunday, December 6

One other scorching turkey sandwich? One other scorching turkey sandwich. I ate this one for dinner, with a knife and fork, hunched over our espresso desk whereas watching The Crown.

Monday, December 7

So, the rationale I “acquired into” making gravy was I needed to comply with a strict comfortable meals food regimen for a pair months this summer time after scorching my esophagus. How did I do that? By tasting, after which swallowing, a lava-hot spoonful of bechamel for a pot pie filling. Please don’t do any of this stuff.

Now my meals tube is basically healed (alcohol and occasional are nonetheless type of powerful!), I made a decision it was time to face my fears and make one other bechamel-involving casserole. Bechamel makes so many issues creamy and good; I couldn’t worry it without end.

I went with Molly Yeh’s tater tot rooster pot hotdish, as a result of I really like a tot and in addition I discover Yeh’s recipes charming and dependable. I minimize the quantity of turkey, added in some butternut squash from the farm field (possibly all of my cooking selections come all the way down to utilizing issues up?), and made my girlfriend, who doesn’t cook dinner in any means however is far tidier than me, line up all of the tater tots. This dish was scrumptious, truthfully one in every of my favourite issues I’ve made lately. What actually made it was the thyme; it was wealthy and natural with out tasting like Thanksgiving or Christmas, however of the cozycore time in between. The butternut pushed issues just a little candy for the tots, although — it will have tasted even higher with puff pastry on high.

Tuesday, December 8

My favourite kitchen equipment, which I exploit twice a day typically, is my rice cooker. When my mother gave me the rice cooker, she additionally gave me The Final Rice Cooker Cookbook, which I exploit typically to make all the pieces from polenta to rice pudding. I attempted out the e book’s recipe for turkey jook, a rice porridge made with turkey inventory, which I’d by no means made earlier than however had eyed over time. You add chopped carrot and cabbage to the rice and inventory, after which cook dinner all of it up within the rice maker’s porridge setting. I topped it with shredded turkey and cilantro and scallion greens and sesame oil, and it turned out fairly properly! I feel subsequent 12 months, after I can face turkey once more, I’d wish to attempt a extra conventional stovetop model, however this made for a heat and easy lunch.

Wednesday, December 9

Turkey jook leftovers for lunch and hotdish leftovers for dinner. No regrets.

Thursday, December 10

In a mirror of final week, we cut up up the final of the jook and hotdish for lunch. Earlier than penning this, I had no concept my weekly cooking routine was so routine. At occasions, I’ve suspected that if I didn’t get a weekly farm field filled with elements I didn’t select, I’d die of boredom on this pandemic. It does appear to be with out exterior enter, I can simply eat the identical factor time and again till I get sick of it; possibly it’s higher to as a substitute need to face down what I’m going to do with all these turnips this week.

Friday, December 11

That is the place I hit my restrict, or some type of restrict. I attempted to have the final of the turkey jook for lunch, and it tasted… not good? I don’t suppose it had gone dangerous; I feel I simply couldn’t take turkey any extra. Taste fatigue is a surprisingly disturbing feeling. When one thing tastes precisely the identical because it has for days or even weeks, besides not good, it appears like actuality has gotten hollowed out a tiny bit, and that extra could possibly be coming. I notice meals not tasting good is a symptom of despair, however it’s additionally probably the most apt metaphor for what all of despair appears like — all the pieces is strictly the identical, besides now it sucks.

Saturday, December 12

This weekend, we started our new seasonal cooking challenge: cookies. In between making six completely different sorts of cookies, I pulled the ultimate dregs of the turkey and its inventory out of the freezer, chopped up a bunch of carrots and a candy potato I’d forgotten I had, and put it in a pot with some frozen selfmade curry bricks. In April, when my pandemic despair was particularly eager and hopeless, I threw myself into uncommon kitchen initiatives, and none am I extra grateful for than having made Sonoko Sakai’s curry bricks together with her curry brick equipment. The entire spices are so pungent and flavorful and completely balanced, and it ends in so many straightforward and satisfying meals. We housed our curry over white rice earlier than pulling extra cookies out of the oven.

Sunday, December 13

Within the midst of the continued cookie insanity, for lunch I microwaved the leftover turkey curry and poured it in an enormous messy pile over a fluffy slice of milk bread. Curry over rice tastes right, however curry dumped over bread was an ideal mixture of acquainted and barely off. Bear in mind what I mentioned about scorching turkey sandwiches? I really need one proper now.

Monday, December 14

For my ultimate turkey meal, already previous deadline on this turkey weblog and 20 days after first cooking this turkey for Thanksgiving, I did the identical actual factor for lunch I’d performed the day earlier than: dump curry over bread. I nonetheless loved it, however I additionally had one thing akin to the sensation you may have when you understand after your subsequent chunk, you’ll be full: I used to be performed. I sit up for consuming turkey on Thanksgiving of 2021, however I don’t have to see it beforehand — and regardless of the apparent utility of cooking an enormous fowl as soon as as a substitute of many smaller chickens, I need turkey to stay a seasonal meals. Bringing it into April or July would undermine its specialness, and underline its blandness, lowering it to only one other fowl.

Ending off the large turkey took much less time and work than I imagined — if something, it made deciding what to eat simpler, and there was no have to preserve poaching chickens for just a few weeks. However now, all I need is fish and beans, all of it topped with salsa verde or salsa or chili oil. Possibly a steak. However I’d be mendacity if I mentioned I wasn’t contemplating getting a complete Christmas ham and spending per week or two dwelling off its carcass.

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